It left me with more questions I need to ask myself than I thought I would find.
The show retells the Old English epic of the hero Beowulf – who travels to the home of the Danes to fight the infamous monster Grendel – through poetry, live music and, yes, puppetry. The story is told by a poet, played by Tom Dussek, who guides us through the narrative and sets each scene. Dussek is a natural storyteller who can command the room with ease and, such is his charm and talent, he can transform a couple of carefully constructed ladders on a box into a Danish mead hall with just a few words.
The show achieves much with very little, using only limited props and set. The team relies on strong lighting and sound design to set the mood and scene perfectly. Live music complements every moment in the story, be it the thudding drum beat when danger approaches or the quiet, eerie sounds of the electric keyboard.
The script itself is well composed. The story is told in verse, which rolls off Dussek’s tongue and keeps the play close to the poem’s origins as an oral tale. The show is surprisingly poignant, weaving a rather intelligent argument about the nature of stories and why we as people need them, into the overall plot. It left me with more questions I need to ask myself than I thought I would find.
The real strong point of the show is the mood it creates. All of the elements came together to make me feel that I was a child again, listening to someone telling me a thrilling story and having it all play out in my mind. I found myself oohing and aahing when Beowulf took to sea on his ship and gasping during his fight with Grendel.